Big Man, Big Heart

A few years back, my dad worked with a man named Randy.  My dad described Randy as a big, tough guy who everyone was terrified of. He said that Randy had tattoos up both arms (this was back in the 90’s, where only soldiers and sinners wore tattoos), scars across his face, and weighed in the neighbourhood of 300 lbs of muscle and mean. (My dad has always been very descriptive, to the point that I didn’t know Randy, nor did I meet him, but I feared him)

Apparently Randy had a long list of criminal offences and jail time under his belt. ‘He wasn’t very good socially’ my dad said. He would come to work in a savage mood, complaining about a certain bartender or ex-wife that he wanted to kill, and as everyone listened in fear, he would slam his giant fist on a table and frighten the hell out of everyone in the room.

My dad explained that one day, while all the workers were out in the field working (The job was to prepare a certain piece of land so that the town could expand the golf course), a flock of seagulls landed beside the workers. They all noticed one particular bird who hopped on one leg.  As a few of the men joked about the bird, Randy said nothing. For once, he was quiet. My dad explained that one of the men picked up a rock and attempted to throw it at the injured animal. My dad said that he never seen such a big man move so fast. Randy leaped from where he stood and seemed to land  in front of the cruel man, grabbing his hand with the stone in it and virtually bending the man’s arm back to where it had to hurt. He then threw the man to the ground and rushed to the side of the injured gull.

My dad said that it was a miracle. None of the birds moved. The hurt bird seemed to hop right into Randy’s arms. With that, the big man held the bird in his arms and headed back to the camp, where using a few popsicle sticks, he fashioned a  little splint on the bird’s injured leg, and wrapped it with gauze from the first aid kit. He made a small bed in the corner of the room, and placed the bird in it. Taking a sandwich from his lunch box, Randy fed the hungry animal and cared for it as if it were a baby.

My dad said that in the weeks following, Randy was a much different man. He was caring and thoughtful, and showed respect to anyone who deserved it. He also spent a lot of time with the gull, who was getting stronger each day. When the bird was strong enough to walk on its leg, Randy took it out in the field and threw it into the air, watching it fly and catch up with the other birds who seemed to be waiting for him to return to the flock. My dad still talks about this day, when the big scary man from the golf course cried his eyes out as he watched the mended bird fly away.

There is good in all of us. Sometimes it takes a bit of time before it is seen, but it is there. Dad said that Randy quit the golf course job soon after the bird incident, only to wind up in jail for breaking and entering. Most of the town talked and chattered about the giant man and how mean and scary he was, but not my dad. He knew that the  big man had an even bigger heart.

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